Gateway to poultry production and products

Nutrition and feeding

In terms of cost, feed is the most important input for intensive poultry production, and the availability of low-priced, high-quality feeds is critical for the expansion of the poultry industry. For maximum performance and good health, poultry need a steady supply of energy, protein, essential amino acids, minerals, vitamins and, most important, water. Recent advances in poultry nutrition have focused on three main areas:

  1.  developing an understanding of nutrient metabolism and nutrient requirements;
  2. determining the availability of nutrients in feed ingredients; and
  3. formulating least-cost diets that bring nutrient requirements and nutrient supply together.

Practical poultry diets are formulated from a mixture of ingredients, including cereal grains, cereal by-products, fats, plant protein sources, vitamin and mineral supplements, crystalline amino acids and feed additives. Increasing costs and decreasing supplies of traditional feedstuffs (due in part to food-feed competition and population growth) are expected to affect the future expansion of poultry production. This highlights the urgent need to make greater use of a wide range of alternative feeds (e.g. insect meals, food waste, agro-industrial byproducts) and to use fewer human-edible components in poultry diets. The use of most alternative feedstuffs is currently negligible, owing to constraints imposed by nutritional, technical and socio-economic factors. In many circumstances, feed resources are either unused and wasted, or used inefficiently.

A major nutritional problem in developing countries is the biological and chemical contamination of poultry feeds, which may have serious consequences on bird performance and the safety of poultry products for humans. Of the potential contaminants, mycotoxins are the most widespread, particularly in hot, humid conditions, and mycotoxin decontamination must be a part of feeding strategies.

Did you know?

  • Among traditional livestock species, poultry are the most efficient feed converters.
  • Poultry and swine production account for over 70 percent of the grain used for feeding livestock.
  • Improving feed efficiency is a key factor in reducing the environmental impact of poultry production.
  • Poultry feed is largely derived from cereals and legumes that could be used directly for human consumption.